humankind, you put too much weight on success. It’s not your fault entirely,
that’s how you’re wired. You need to eat, live, have a shelter and make a few
babies. And if possible, degrees, a phone, a car, a vacation… of course you
need to believe in success and set much store by it. Worship it. Not that you
shouldn’t, but you have found one of the wrong ways to approach it. I think so.
You know what I think the problem is? I think you take success as a certificate
that you worked hard. That’s not a problem, but sometimes, you know, it isn’t
so. There are sometimes dirty little hidden stories behind success. These are
not much of a bother, though. What is, is another connotation that is
intermingled with this notion. That bit does bother me.
And it is that failure is often taken as a certificate that you
didn’t work hard.
I really don’t want to be talking that cliché, believe me. I have
something else to say.
What I think is that in any particular pursuit or effort, success
as I would like to think of it, or failure for that matter, is accomplished a
little distance before the end of the effort, or the announcement of the
result, or whatever is usually taken as verdict as to whether one has succeeded
or failed. It is accomplished while you’re still on the job, and you’re knee
deep in the middle of it, or just clutching your way out of it and seeing light
at the end of the tunnel. That’s when it happens. You either succeed or you
fail. And yes, you feel it. You know it. But you humankind, you pathetic flock,
you push that feeling away, feeling that it’s not important. What’s important
is that certificate at the end, issued — and this is funniest — by someone else, someone who had no hand in that
effort, someone who didn’t get in there and get their hands dirty and doesn’t
really know what they’re talking about, someone who entered the scene only
conveniently late in the proceedings, and on a high chair of some sort from
which they do all their surveying. Now, let’s not be unfair, not always is this
other person like this, but it doesn’t matter what they are like.
What matters is when in the middle of your job you suddenly get
that good feeling that yes, you’ve been doing something worthwhile, and you can
do it, and you have worked your pants off for it. And you’ve succeeded then.
Even if you don’t win the competition or whatever. And if in the middle of it
the job seems too easy, and you aren’t so serious, or you are, but your plan
failed to materialize the way you would’ve wanted, you have failed right there,
even if you get the first prize.
The pity is that it doesn’t seem to work this way for you, humans.
You don’t like it this way. You always feel the need to appoint an external
factor to decide the verdict (this part always makes me feel a little tickling
at the base of my stomach), and maybe that’s not so bad or you’d have problems
of all sorts, but hey, keep that guy for administrative purposes. You just put
too much weight on what he says. Success and failure of the kind I talked about
can’t be decided by him. He’s just not in the equation.
Anyway, that’s your way and it can’t be changed. You’ve all just
settled down this way and no one ever really thought of changing this and even
if someone did it’d be an alien concept and wouldn’t shake down too well. But
when you don’t succeed, you start thinking along these lines, don’t you, that
perhaps the effort should have had a greater say in the matter than the
ultimate verdict? Perhaps success or failure is decided a little earlier?
Internally? And then you vocalize these things, in your different words,
sitting down in front of your neighbour over a cup of coffee and telling her
how your son didn’t get the scholarship doesn’t mean he didn’t work hard. And
while you’re telling her of all the ways your son worked hard, you start to
wonder whether the words that are coming out of your lips are starting to sound
like excuses, maybe?…
And the more weight you give to success, the less, obviously, is
the chance of succeeding. It follows logically, see, when you invert that
sentence. So you see, the more you worship success, the greater will be the
number of failures. And you, humankind, will be forced to glorify failure every
once in a while and in small conversations, put in a little word here and there
about the effort.
That is your punishment.
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